UGa Seeks Its Identity; the Inconsistent Offense Has Struggled Mostly in Passing Downfield

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Byline: MARC WEISZER

ATHENS, Ga. -- Mike Bobo watched his Georgia offense go three-and-out too many times, saw it repeatedly struggle to push the ball past the first-down marker and witnessed the line be manhandled by Tennessee last week.

All of which left the Bulldogs' first-year offensive coordinator offering this blunt postgame assessment in a game his team trailed 28-0 at halftime.

"We've got to find something to hang our hat on offensively," Bobo said. "Right now, I don't know what that is."

Neither does the unit's most vocal leader now that tailback Thomas Brown is out because of a broken collarbone.

"We ain't got no identity right now," senior center Fernando Velasco said as 24th-ranked Georgia (4-2, 2-2) prepared for tonight's game at Vanderbilt (3-2, 1-2). "One could look at the Ole Miss game and say 'OK, we can run the ball.' Then we go to the Tennessee game and don't get but what 59 yards rushing?"

Actually, it was 69 yards, but that's still worlds away from the 328 rolled up against Ole Miss two weeks ago.

"We're definitely trying to establish the run every week," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We want to continue to improve in that area. We've been a better screen team than anything to this point, which isn't all that surprising considering the youth of that line. We've been just hot and cold when it comes to throwing and catching the football. Not very impressive."

An offensive line that starts three freshmen has left Bulldogs running backs often needing to find room and makes downfield passing a challenge.

Georgia is 80th in the nation in passing offense at 201.8 yards per game, up from a tie for 87th at this point last season when the team still hadn't settled on its starting quarterback.

The Bulldogs have shown modest gains in the rankings, compared to after six games last season, in rushing offense (from 62nd to 53rd) and total offense (91st to 77th). They're down slightly in scoring (47th to 49th).

Georgia is in the bottom half of every offensive category in the Southeastern Conference.

This week, Bobo said "anytime you get your butt whipped," as in Tennessee's 35-14 victory in Knoxville, it's natural to go back to the drawing board. …